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“Retail therapy” is more than just a joke

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Shopping: The New Health Secret?

If I said, “Good health,” would you think of long workouts and tasteless diet food? A lot of people do. But the latest research shows that you can boost your health in much more enjoyable ways.

For example, would you believe that regular shopping could keep you healthy for years longer? And in an ironic twist, a new study says that men seem to benefit more from regular shopping than women.

As you probably know, “mall walking” can be a great way to get healthy exercise. Especially when the weather might otherwise keep you from being active.

Walking helps keep your bones strong and builds heart health and lung capacity. Even just strolling through a shopping center burns extra calories and contributes to overall health.

But shopping offers other benefits, too.

For example, it’s a social activity. It increases your human contact – which can help improve your mood and outlook. Plus, some studies show that closer social contact supports a healthier immune system and heart function, too.1

And that’s not all. Shopping can promote a better self-image and more confidence.

Last year, university researchers discovered that simply carrying the right shopping bag made many shoppers feel better about themselves.

These scientists asked women to carry either a plain pink shopping bag – or the signature bag from a popular lingerie shop – around a mall for an hour. Carrying the lingerie shop bag left many women feeling more feminine and glamorous.2

And buying had nothing to do with this benefit. These women didn’t shop at the store in question. The image the brand created in their minds was enough to make them feel better about themselves.

So you see, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the benefits of shopping. In fact, not spending your money could be a distinct advantage. Here’s why…

Shopping activates reward centers in your brain, which boost your mood. But experts at Emory University learned that the “feel good” chemicals released by the shopping experience are actually released by anticipation.3

In other words, window-shopping can make you feel just as good as buying something – but won’t cost you a dime. Actually buying the item won’t make you feel any better than just admiring it in the store window – or trying it on for size.

But the really good news about shopping and health comes from a brand new study.

A team from Taiwan and Australia reviewed the shopping habits of 1,841 mature adults. After 10 years, they found a clear link between how often people shopped and their health.

On average, the people who shopped most tended to lived longer – a lot longer – than the people who shopped least often. And the “shopping advantage” was 5% greater for men than for women.3

Of course, the exercise benefits associated with shopping probably play the biggest role in this effect. But it’s still good news for those who love to shop – or hate to spend time at the gym.

The point is you don’t have to spend endless hours working out – or eat nothing but “rabbit food” – to build better health. Sometimes, it’s a matter of just having fun.

Stay Healthy,

Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals

1 Seeman, TE. Social ties and health: The benefits of social integration. Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 6, Issue 5, Pages 442-451 (September 1996).

2 Park JK and John DR. Got to Get You into My Life: Do Brand Personalities Rub Off on Consumers? Journal of Consumer Research, 2010, Volume 37, Issue 4, 655 – 669.

3 See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113382650575214543.html.

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